Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of Florida
|Florida Released Time Education Contact:|
Greater Melbourne Are Released Time
509 Andrews Circle, Melbourne Beach 32951
Director: Cissie Jones
STATUTES: Florida Statutes Annotated
The Florida compulsory attendance law (§232.01) requires that all children, ages 6-15 (inclusive) must attend public school, parochial or denominational school (§232.02) or private schools supported by tuition or gifts [§232.02(3)].
The Florida Statutes expressly provide for "absence for religious instructions in §232.0225. A student with the notarized written consent of his parents may be excused from attendance in school but only if the student is in grades nine through twelve. Such a student may only be excused for one class period, not to exceed one hour, during each school day to participate in religious instruction away from school property.
Permission for released time may only be granted by the district school board if the following conditions are met:
|1) The religious institution maintains weekly attendance records and makes them available to the public school each student attends.|
2) Transportation to and from the religious instruction is the complete responsibility of the religious institution or parent of the student.
3) Each school board specifies in advance its own requirements on liability involving students on released time and the religious institution or parents meet those requirements. [§232.0225(9)-(c)]
The legislature allows the principal of each school to reserve the right to refuse a student's request for released time if the student is not enrolled in sufficient courses or if the student's grades are insufficient to allow for the student's promotion or graduation. In addition, the district school boards are not required to have released-time programs and they may terminate an individual's permission to attend a religious institution.
In conclusion the Florida Legislature has clearly recognized released time programs as constitutional in the Florida's public school system.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy):
Each school district is free to initiate and conduct a released time program provided it complies with §232.0225. The State Education Department is not aware of anyone currently using the program.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS:
The first Released Time program in Florida was established in 1991. The program, located in Melbourne, offered an off campus elective class for students at Melbourne High School. When checking with the local school board, the program organizers were pleased to learn that a Released Time policy had already been established.
FCRTM recommends that you meet with your school principal, school superintendent, or a member of the school board to learn whether or not a policy has been adopted.
A parent from Melbourne wrote to the Released Time program organizers there:
"Thank you for all the effort in putting together the Released Time class. The course has had a very positive impact on our daughter. She is much better equipped to stand firm in her faith. I see a lot of growth in her. I believe the class helped the students to solidify their belief in Christ."
The 'Florida law makes Released Time possible in every school district. Although a tremendous opportunity exists, few know of it and fewer still take advantage. FCRTM urges parents and churches to get involved. Every High School in the state could and should have this program.
Information provided by:
The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries
5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805 ˜ (562) 428-7733
1-800-360-7943 Email Us